This morning felt like a test that I failed. Miserably.
I was switching laundry when I heard a little voice, sounding so proud, "Look, Mama, look!" And, as I turned to look, I found a face covered in red lipstick staring back at me. Well, it was more of a dusty rose but, for dramatic purposes, we'll say red. Did I look at that face and exclaim what a beautiful job she had done with the lipstick? Did I take a picture so everyone could see how incredibly cute she looked?
No, I did none of those things. Instead I allowed my anger and frustration to take over. I sat her on the sink counter and washed her face with a washcloth. All the while telling her, in a not so lovely and kind voice, how she was not allowed in mommy's purse and she knew it. How she had ruined her shirt and my jeans and my purse. I went on and on. As if a three year old could really understand anyway. And the look on her face should have melted my heart. But it didn't. I was angry and I wanted her to know it.
Even later, when she came and laid her head on my leg and said "I sorry, mama", I patted her head and gave my forgiveness in a begrudging way. I still felt angry and I didn't want to let it go quite yet. Not very gracious. Not at all.
It is three hours later and she is down for a nap and I find myself struggling with an area of my life that I have struggled with for thirty years now. An ugly area. One that I think I have conquered and it keeps coming back. As if Satan is taunting me with my own weakness and I give in once again. And I feel awful. Unforgivable. Ashamed.
I go to my heavenly father and after all these years he should be so angry with me. He should give up on me. He should throw all of my failures in my face. I really kind of want him to because that is what I deserve.
But, instead, I find grace. I find forgiveness. I find arms that wrap me in their love. I find a new beginning. Totally undeserved, but given anyway. It brings me to my knees again and again. How can I ever show myself worthy of this gift of grace?
I know that I can't ever earn it. It wouldn't be a gift then, would it? But I can give it. I can show that grace to others. To a three year old. Did she deserve it this morning? No, not really, but I can give it anyway. Because she is my child. In need of grace. And I can give it to her. I can teach her what grace looks like even in my own imperfect way.
I failed this morning. But, thankfully, God has shown me his grace. And when that three year old wakes up from her nap we will have a new start to our day. I will ask her for her forgiveness and, as always, I will hear her say "It's okay, Mama". Grace still comes naturally for her. And I am so grateful for that.
I have been reading a book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. It has challenged me to start a list of one thousand things for which I am grateful. I only started last week and I can feel this process changing me already. I find myself going through the day looking for those gifts so I can write them down. Even in the worst of days I am on a hunt for the good. And I am finding there is always good. Even on days when you have to dig deep.
On Mondays I am going to share some of the gifts I am finding and what I am learning while on my search.
1. Tears of a daughter trying to remember her sister
2. Washing dishes with a cloth that was made with love
3. Snow covering the world in a blanket of pure white
4. Playing princess with my princess
5. Watching birds feast on the seeds we leave for them
6. A husband who works to provide so I can raise our children at home
7. God's voice speaking to me through the writing of others
8. The loving heart of a little girl- Anna, full of Grace
9. Grace, so undeserved, but always given
10. The smell of vegetable soup cooking on an icy day